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Houston DSA Stands with HISD Teachers During Their Sickout


We in Houston DSA stand in unwavering solidarity with our brave public-school teachers as they choose to risk their careers to stand up to the inhumane treatment of students, teachers, and school staff under the direction of the unelected school board. These usurpers have been sent in by the rightwing Texas Education Agency (TEA) using thinly-veiled pretext to oversee the destruction of our beloved Houston Independent School District (HISD)A. The goal of superintendent Mike Miles and his cronies is to make HISD such an inhospitable environment that all students, teachers, and school staff will be pressured into transferring or forced to leave. We have seen mass firings of principals, janitors, teachers, librarians, and wraparound-service providers in the past monthBC. Once all opposition to the takeover has been removed, HISD will be deemed a failed project. That is when Mike Miles and his cronies will proceed with their project to charterize and privatize what remains of HISD. A report released on 14 May 2024 by Spectrum News shows that Mike Miles is diverting our tax dollars to bail out his failing Colorado-based charter school system, Third Future SchoolsD.

Detroit public schools were controlled by a state-appointed officials for 15 years between 1999 and 2005 and then again between 2009 and 2016E. This takeover drove down the quality of education, alienated the public schools from the community, and incentivized students to leave in dronesF. Many of the tactics we saw during the state takeover of Detroit’s public schools are being utilized by Mike Miles and his cronies against HISD.

The school-to-prison pipeline was not streamlined enough for Mike Miles. Instead, school is now prison. Students at James Madison High School walked out of school multiple times during the week beginning 5 February 2024 to protest the administration’s draconian policy against cell phone usageG. This very week on 13 May 2024, parents at Crockett Elementary in HISD held a protest against the forced removal of Principal ValeH. Individual freedoms are being taken away. Libraries have been replaced by discipline centersI. Respected educators and school staff are being fired, and our community is suffering greatly. If we do not fight now with all our collective might to win back our schools, five years from now we will be left with the charred remains of what used to be the top Urban School District in America as recently as 2013J.

Why a sickout?

Texas is one of five states where collective bargaining by public sector employees (like teachers) is illegal. Another twelve states explicitly prevent teachers from striking. 32 states prohibit public-sector strikes, and only Hawai’i permits public-sector strikes in all instances. Anti-labor laws cannot silence the power of the working class. The working class alone has the power to disrupt “business as usual.”

In August 2023, licensed educators in Las Vegas embarked upon a week of rolling sickouts that led to the closures of several schoolsK. Now those same educators are fighting to get the right for teachers to strike on the ballotL. On 31 January 2024, over 75% of school employees in Durham called in sick, shutting down their school district’s operationsM. On 4 April 2024, more than 100 HISD teachers across more than 35 campuses called in sick to draw attention to the plight of public-school workers in Houston under the TEA takeoverN. Today’s sickout at multiple HISD schools continues this recent trend of working-class consciousness and labor solidarity among public-school employees. We commend these brave workers, and we at Houston DSA will support them in the fight to win back our schools!

Houston DSA launched its Win Back Our Schools campaign on 13 April 2024 after unanimous approval from membership present. Join our movement at www.dsausa.org/join.